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Title: Evolution Theory and Economic History: A Partnership of Mutual Necessity?
Contributor(s): Lloyd, Christopher  (author)
Publication Date: 2013
DOI: 10.7788/boehlau.9783412212094.193
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Abstract: The scientific study of the history of economies, which is essential to understanding and explaining the structural dynamics of present economies, is in need of a new general theoretical 'framework'. Ever since the eclipse of the so-called "Old Economic History" in the 1960s and 70s by what became overtime a new orthodoxy, the study of economic history by its self-designated practitioners has become too narrow in its theoretical thinking. The approaches and studies of the sort pursued by the leading Old EH practitioners, such as Max Weber, Karl Polanyi, Michael Postan, Eric Hobsbawm, Fernand Braudel, and Barrington Moore, have become less central to the discourse. Their motivations were to make interdisciplinary and overarching attempts to examine the complex history of whole socio-political-economic systems without abstracting the economy from the totality. Many concepts and theories were employed and the historian's concern with reality, complexity, and contingency were central to the methodology. The "New Economic History", on the other hand, accomplished abstraction, greater quantification, and counterfactualism, all in the interests of precision and concision and explanatory progress, and thereby became an orthodoxy upon which the discipline tended to converge. Trying to be more inclusive and totalising certainly comes at a cost of less precision but does permit inclusion of more possible explanatory variables. Indeed, it is now widely understood that a narrow concentration on explaining economic change by reference to economic factors (narrowly defined) alone was a mistake and various attempts are being made to rebuild forms of interdisciplinarity. However, many of these new broader, encompassing, attempts are, unfortunately, lacking correspondingly broad theoretical frameworks, relying all too often on the orthodox theoretical framework of rational choice individualism to try to explain the wider social totality. In fact, too often this is just another form of the "economic imperialism" that has been widespread in recent decades.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Perspektiven durch Retrospektiven: Wirtschaftsgeschichtliche Beiträge. Festschrift für Rolf Walter zum 60. Geburtstag, p. 193-210
Publisher: Boehlau Verlag
Place of Publication: Weimar, Germany
ISBN: 9783412212094
Field of Research (FOR): 220208 History and Philosophy of the Social Sciences
220209 History of Ideas
149903 Heterodox Economics
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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